They may be an endangered species in 2022, but despite the hectoring from the peanut gallery, this blog continues to fly the flag for the humble rom-com; what’s life without a little romance? And here’s a personal recommendation, new on Prime UK, that’s not one of the sainted few (Pretty Woman, When Harry Met Sally and so on) but really deserves a little more love. Reviews of this adaptation of Sophie Kinsella’s books were scathing, but what do critics know about matters of the human heart? Cowriter Tracey Jackson was a bit-part player on Nora Ephron’s Heartburn back in 1986, and while Shopaholic may be Ephron-lite, that bitter-sweet tone makes this one stand out from the crowd.
Isla Fisher plays Becky Bloomwood, a wannabe fashionista who is ideally suited to the frantic pace of Manhattan society life; the only problem is, her ego is writing checks that her back balance can’t cash. Becky thinks she’s going for an interview for a job at a glitzy magazine (run by Alette Naylor aka Kristin Scott Thomas) but is actually being seen by the management at Successful Saving, a magazine that runs contrary to Becky’s extravagant, designer-label impulses. The editor of Successful Saving, however, is dishy Luke (Hugh Dancy), who takes a shine for Becky, but will he still love her when he finds out she can’t juggle her own finances?
Confessions of a Shopaholic has two personable leads, but the support cast fill in any cracks ably; John Goodman and Joan Cusack are Becky’s sensible parents, there’s cameos from Ed Helms, Fred Armisten, Lynn Redgrave, Julie Hagerty, Leslie Bibb and more, and the flashy, gaudy side of Manhattan pops nicely with Fisher’s flair for physical comedy. Confessions of a Shopaholic also deals with genuine financial issues, and the credit-card trap that’s ensnared and destroyed many a youngsters’ dreams; money is usually no object in cinema, but for once, PJ Hagan’s film bothers to count the pennies and examine the cost of Becky’s fake-it-till-you-make-it lifestyle on her sense of self.
For a film you’ve probably never heard of, Confessions of a Shopaholic coined in over a $100 million worldwide, and yet the curb-your-consumption message seems to have noised up critics and audiences. Living on the never-never isn’t a great option, but self-deception isn’t much good either, and this simple rom-com actually delivers the goods in terms of a positive message for young people that acknowledges the sugar-rush of comfort-shopping, but also aims to raise awareness of how material greed can get in the way of spiritual development.